Rough start dooms Greenmen in loss to state power Howland

By Eric Fortune Correspondent

In Howland coach Brian Stile’s opinion, anytime a Cleveland team comes in with the amount of victories that the Aurora Greenmen had, you are playing a good team.

Though his team might be labeled a great team as well. Three goals in the first 13 minutes of play was more than enough, as the hostTigers got past the Greenmen 4-0 in a Division II District Final Saturday afternoon at Richard Lombardo Field.

“I thought we did a nice job of starting quickly,” Stiles said. “We look forward to competition. Guys really stepped up today. We wanted to hit them early and we did that. I’m sure we probably definitely frazzled them a little bit at the beginning. That can happen in the playoffs. Eventually it can to us.

"We always preach about handling adversity as it comes because it’s going to come at some point. You just have to play through it.”

Gabe Altawil got the scoring going for Howland (18-0-1) five minutes and 11 seconds into the game. From there the Tigers offense was clicking on all cylinders. Austin Stassinis followed up a little over two minutes later (32:12) with a goal on a rebound. 

“We have a lot of skill,” Stiles said. “We have a lot of attackers and have scored a lot of goals this year. A lot of it is based on our skill level. We do a nice job of moving the ball. We also did a nice job of moving off the ball. We see it everyday. We know we’re a tough team to defend.”

Before you could blink it was 3-0 Howland after Kylan Mowatt Larson scored with 27:27 left in the first half.

Aurora (14-3-3) had come into the contest with three straight shutouts and clicking on both sides of the ball, outscoring the opposition 15-0.

“When you go down that early and they put that kind of pressure on you, it is hard to adjust, it’s hard to react, and you can't call a timeout,” Aurora coach Ryan Conner said. “They get three goals in the first 13 minutes on three defensive mistakes. They're a very good team, one of the best teams in the state. You make mistakes against a team like that, they’re going to make you pay.

"To fall behind in the game that early, it’s hard. It's hard to come back against that. It takes away some things you want to do.”

Lucas Brill recorded his 16th shutout of the year with seven saves for the Tigers. It’s been essentially Howland and everyone else — they're 39-1-2 over the past two seasons.

“A lot of these kids have been hanging around now for four years,” Stiles said. "It’s a veteran group. It’s funny because when I was talking to them before the game, I remember them when they were freshman and sophomores. 

“There is just a lot of veteran presence. I think they handle these situations well."

Stassinis added his second goal with 19:32 left in the contest. Jordan Spieling (2) and Gabriel Lissi (1) added three assists, respectively. 

“We've beaten some good teams that have been ranked,” Conner said. "We’ve had a good season, and so we felt good going into the game. We knew they were really good. We just felt like we would play better than we did. We felt we could match up with them defensively. We've been pretty tough all year. It’s unfortunate that we had the mistakes that we had, because we haven't made those mistakes for most of the year.”

Howland came into the matchup ranked second in the final OSSCA Poll. They’ll play the top-ranked Bay Rockets on Wednesday.

“We’ll take a look like we do every other team and prepare,” Stiles said. “We’re well aware of that program and their history as well. We’re looking forward to the competition.”